- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer took aim at the Trump administration over its handling of the coronavirus Tuesday, saying the president is trying to act too late and showing incompetence on health matters.

“The Trump administration is scrambling to respond,” the New York Democrat said on the chamber floor, adding it was as if they are “trying to build an airplane while already in mid-flight.”

The comment comes after the president requested more than $2 billion on Monday to help battle the virus.

The president, meanwhile, blasted the Senate Democratic leader as using the issue for a publicity stunt.

“Cryin’ Chuck Schumer is complaining, for publicity purposes only, that I should be asking for more money than $2.5 Billion to prepare for Coronavirus. If I asked for more he would say it is too much. He didn’t like my early travel closings. I was right. He is incompetent!” Mr. Trump tweeted.

Mr. Schumer criticized the president’s administration for not distributing test kits widely enough, eliminating global health security teams and putting Ken Cuccinelli, the secretary of Homeland Security, in charge of the emerging health crisis.

“Federal agencies have been so hollowed out,” Mr. Schumer said, questioning why an immigration hawk is handling the virus instead of scientists and health industry experts.

Mr. Schumer said the president should restore cuts to the Center for Disease Control budget and appoint a nonpartisan global health expert as the point person instead of a political appointee.

Mr. Trump requested $2.5 billion from Congress Monday to deal with the growing threat of the virus.

Democrats have panned Mr. Trump’s request for coronavirus funding, saying it was “too little, too late.”

Mr. Schumer particularly objected to plans to shift $535 million in leftover Ebola funding, citing the ongoing outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Administration officials said they were being prudent in redirecting the money from a fight that’s winding down to one that’s surging.

All told, the White House wants $1.25 billion in new funding, the Ebola money and a series of other transfers that add up to $2.5 billion in total.

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